They Just Want to LOVE You

…and be loved in return. Even your biggest critics secretly want to love your business.

Your crankiest customers are dying to root for you. There was a reason why they chose you, so what’s changed? The biggest business killer is a broken brand promise. From the customer’s point of view, it’s like taking three to the chest. The spark that brought them to your door? That zsa zsa zu? It’s zsa zsa zonked.

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For nearly 30 years, I’ve watched the arc of customer satisfaction at some companies go from thrilled to optimistic, from tepid to disappointment or frustration. And sometimes, to competitors. I’ve also been witness to outstanding triage performed on dissatisfied customers by companies who experience deep brand loyalty, even today. It’s critical to design an predictable “customer experience,” preferably before you launch your offering, but it’s worth considering carefully at any time. I would go a step further and argue that customer experience design should be revisited at regular intervals. But let’s return to the issue: dissatisfied customers.

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The good news is you have a relationship: treasure it

Dissatisfaction can usually be solved at the relationship level, although sometimes, a product or service just doesn’t live up to the brand promise.

If you don’t have clear signals and direct messages from others where the satisfaction dip is happening, I recommend performing a Brand Study, which will give you a 360 degree view of the health of your brand and therefore, the details about what needs to be addressed.

Opening up the lines of communication is an oldie but a goodie, but it means being open. Open to listening to customers, employees and the market demand.

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Remedies for a broken promise

Commit to understanding the issues and communicating that commitment with a follow up action, and the end result expected

  • Be transparent and respectful, they are about to tell you how to save your business
  • Be informed without filters about exactly how your customer feels, and why
  • Incorporate the customer voice into the solution(s)
  • Confirm the solution(s) with the customer
  • Establish and practice common sense rules and perform a 30, 60 and 90 day review

Another consideration to the broken brand promise for companies is that over time, a core vision or competency has shifted to such a degree that existing customers and the company vision are no longer aligned. In this case, there should be a clear plan of record that tracks the trajectory of change, so that all customers can be communicated with far in advance of the shift. If the company focus has shifted, it is unnatural to assume the same customer base will be satisfied, and that new customer profiles will be sought.

 

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When you pay it forward, you pay yourself in the end

Long-term results take effort, but the investment pays dividends. By treating existing, but soon-to-exit, customers with respect and care through the end of the cycle, this builds respect and courtesies that extend into the new phase of the company.

Avoiding customer interaction at the end of a lifecycle will put another roadblock squarely in the path of change. Word of mouth is available to anyone with a smartphone, so imagine the challenges of trying to break new ground with a series of review shadows across internet communities following your company’s new direction.Don’t be afraid to dig in and repair invest in better customer relationships, in a way that makes it better for your customers. The positive referrals will matter.

 

Read The Me-Me-Me Opera is Over for facts about the power of customer-to-customer communications.

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About The Author

Jeanie Walker
Longtime brand and marketing professional with a special fondness for delivering the best customer experience design and a zest for helping local companies build strong communities.